Netflix buys Roald Dahl catalogue for R10 billion — report

Netflix Inc. has agreed to buy the works of novelist Roald Dahl, snaring a catalog that has sold more than 200 million copies worldwide including titles such as “Matilda” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Citing media sources, Sky News reported that Dahl’s family received “a little over” £500 million (R10 billion) in the deal.

The same sources also said that the family was advised by the New York-based merchant bank Raine Group on the sale.

The streaming giant plans to use Dahl’s characters and stories for animated and live-action films and TV series, publishing projects, games, theater shows and consumer products, Netflix said in a statement Wednesday, confirming an earlier Bloomberg News report. The deal’s completion is subject to regulatory approvals, it said.

Netflix already had a three-year-old agreement with the Roald Dahl Story Co. to make animated shows based on his material.

An acquisition is a rare event for Netflix — the company has made fewer than 10 in the past decade — and this would be its biggest.

Netflix’s usual practice is to sign deals with big-name filmmakers and TV producers who can deliver the programming the service needs to keep attracting subscribers, which now top 209 million.

But the works of Dahl, especially his children’s books, represent a rare opportunity to lock up the catalog of a big-name author who appeals to both kids and adults and would give Netflix reams of material to build into movies and TV shows.

Many of his books have already made it to Hollywood, including “James and the Giant Peach” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

While Netflix didn’t disclose terms of the deal, the author’s catalog is certain to fetch a high price. Netflix’s deal for his works three years ago was reported at the time to be among the biggest ever for kids and family programming, worth $500 million to $1 billion.

Two Dahl film projects are in the works now, according to the Internet Movie Database. Netflix is making “Matilda,” about the precocious British youngster, and Warner Bros. is filming “Wonka,” a story focused on the young Willy Wonka.

Dahl’s legacy is complicated by anti-Semitic remarks he made over his lifetime. The family has apologized for those on the Roald Dahl website. The author died in 1990 at the age of 74.


Reporting with Bloomberg

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Netflix buys Roald Dahl catalogue for R10 billion — report